What does earwax say about your health?

Earwax, which is also known as cerumen, is the waxy substance found in the ear canals of all individuals. Like many things in the body, cerumen is something which varies greatly between each person. This is due to a number of factors, including your health, genetics / ancestry, and how well you look after your ears. So, what can variations in earwax tell us about your health?

To begin, healthy and normal earwax is usually an off white to yellow, or yellow to orange colour. Whether you have wet or dry earwax usually depends on your genetics. Generally, people of East Asian descent are more likely to have dry earwax, whilst people of European and Asian descent are more likely to have wet earwax. Unexpectedly dry wax could be a sign that you have eczema or psoriasis, so we recommend you get in touch with a doctor or healthcare professional if you find that this is the case.

The colour of your earwax can say a lot about your health. For example, if you have darker orange, brown, grey, or black earwax, this is an indication that there is a build-up of dust or other debris in the ear, and the earwax is older.

If you have wax with streaks of blood in it, this could mean that either you have a scratch in your ear, or if it is wet and runny then you may have a ruptured eardrum.

If the wax is green or yellow, and perhaps also has a foul smell, then this may indicate that you have an ear infection.

If you find anything abnormal about your earwax, we recommend that you contact a doctor for further advice.

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